It used to be that addiction was considered a moral failing with addicts considered to be selfish and bad people. As a result, addicts were viewed with very little sympathy or empathy and, instead, were often sent to prison because of substance abuse being so highly criminalized. Today, our more enlightened understanding of addiction as a chronic, progressive disease has allowed more individuals struggling with substance abuse to receive the treatments they need to overcome the disease rather than being punished for it.
However, we continue to learn more about the disease to refine contemporary recovery methods. Since each addict develops and experiences addiction in very individualized ways, it’s necessary for facilities to offer a variety of services and rehabilitative therapies with which patients can personalize addiction curricula, ensuring that a drug addiction treatment program addresses each addict’s recovery needs.
While the method described above is the method that’s insofar proven to be the most effective at allowing individuals to overcome addiction, it is dependent upon the availability of addiction treatment centers and the offering of a variety of different treatments. Despite the epidemic-level rates of addiction that have ravaged the United States and many other countries worldwide, there are many areas that have been unable to accommodate the numerous individuals suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction locally.
In such areas, individuals would be forced to attend a treatment program at a facility that could be hours away from home, which makes recovery treatment inaccessible to many of those who are most at need. One example of there being a high demand for treatment with insufficient addiction treatment facilities available is the state of Utah. As such, the following will discuss why Utah needs more addiction treatment facilities, emphasizing the state’s elevated addiction rates of addiction and the effects that the addiction spike has had on both Utah in general and the Mormon community in particular.
Why Is Utah Drug Treatment Needed?
Many would assume that the state of Utah would have lower rates of addiction compared to other states due to the state’s prominent Mormon community with more than 60 percent of Utah residents being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Many Mormons don’t even drink coffee due to the religion’s discouraging consumption of substances that are harmful or could be harmful to one’s body. However, like virtually every other state in the United States, Utah has experienced continuous growth in rates of alcoholism and drug addiction, especially opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers in particular. In fact, a news report released in October 2014 named Utah as the eighth-highest state in terms of overdose deaths from opiate pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Moreover, save for a small decrease in 2008, deaths attributed to opiate painkillers have increased by 400 percent or more, according to an official with the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
Despite being statistically better able to maintain healthy lifestyles, a number of Utah residents have fallen under the thrall of painkillers because of the gray area in which such substances exist. Although Mormonism discourages the consumption of and reliance on potentially-harmful substances that even includes caffeine, individuals are less hesitant to take prescribed opiates since they come at a doctor’s recommendation for treatment.
However, with it being increasingly common for individuals to become dependent on these drugs and/or begin abusing them, there are more and more people needing treatment for painkiller addiction, overwhelming the available resources. In the absence of sufficient recovery and treatment options, trends have shown that many individuals who become physically dependent on painkillers end up switching to heroin once it becomes more difficult to obtain opiates. Heroin is a cheaper and more widely available alternative to prescription painkillers, resulting in an escalation in severity of the addictions of such individuals.
How Utah’s Addiction Spike Has Affected the Mormon Community
With such a high percentage of Utah residents being members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, it’s inevitable that there would be a number of church members who develop addiction to opioids or other substances. However, rather than avoiding the subject of the addiction epidemic, the Church of Latter-Day Saints is addressing addiction directly by releasing a series of videos—called “12 Steps to Change”—that chronicle individuals who struggled with and overcame addictions. Each video’s subject or subjects had been dealing with addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, gambling, or other such substances or behaviors.
Moreover, the church has developed its own addiction recovery program, which uses scripture in a similar way as Alcoholics Anonymous uses the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Between offering the addiction recovery program and the video series that they began in September 2015 in honor of National Addiction Recovery Month, the church hopes to inspire individuals who feel they can’t overcome addiction because their shame makes them unable to come forward.
Utah Attorney General Supportive of Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act
Most states have been coming up with ways to address the addiction problem directly. Opioid addiction has a particularly devastating effect on public health and wellness. As such, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined attorneys general from 36 other states in sending a letter to leaders of the United States House of Representatives as well as Congress, urging them to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (S. 524/HR 953), which is known as CARA for short. In the letter, Reyes and officials from other states mention that a mere 10 percent of addicts currently receive the treatment they need to overcome addiction, suggesting that the United States cannot fight the addiction epidemic without a comprehensive strategy that leverages health care services and evidence-based law enforcement.
Find Freedom from Addiction with Drug Treatment Center Finder
Addiction is a major issue in Utah and across the United States. While there are effective, evidence-based treatments available, there are still many individuals who aren’t receiving the treatments they need. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about treatment and recovery, contact Drug Treatment Center Finder today at 1-855-619-8070. We have a team of recovery specialists available to match those in need to the treatments that will allow them to achieve long-lasting sobriety and lives of health, happiness, and fulfillment.